Who's The Daddy: Being an empty nester isn’t all doom and gloom

Being empty nesters isn’t all peering into the gaping void of your soul, horrified by the emptiness and sheer futility of life now your children have grown and flown. Occasionally, it does have its upsides.
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Now, you can do what you want whenever you like. No pick-ups, no drop-offs, no clubs, no sleepovers, no school runs (yay!) and your evenings and weekends are yours and yours alone.

Last Friday night me and the boss had a rare chippy tea and settled down for an evening of culture at The Dukes in Lancaster to watch Andrew “Sexy Priest from Fleabag” Scott in the National Theatre’s one-man production of Vanya, a screened performance of a version of Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya.

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Not too many chuckles, but Scott is a mesmeric actor. His recent film All Of Us Strangers is the deepest and most intense thing I’ve seen in years. So powerful I got a stress migraine 25 minutes before the end and literally needed to lie down in a dark room for a couple of hours when we got home. Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s The Power Of Love is a pretty tough listen after all that.

Once the children have left home, life doesn't have to be all doom and gloom. Photo: AdobeOnce the children have left home, life doesn't have to be all doom and gloom. Photo: Adobe
Once the children have left home, life doesn't have to be all doom and gloom. Photo: Adobe

Then up at the crack of dawn to let our sighthound out for a wee and then off to the gym to lift a few (pretty light) weights surrounded by people roughly a third of my age. Do a big shop at Aldi then pootle into town to get a few bits and bobs, make leek and sweet potato soup for lunch and then a two-hour afternoon nap, accompanied later by the dog who brought his teddy to join in.

A Saturday night of cheese, wine, olives, stuffed peppers and crackers (I’m middle class and sophisticated, me) to the sound of a Santorini chill out playlist on Spotify so me and the boss could pretend it was like those nights in July. Actually, one of the tracks is Tullio’s Those Nights In July. All that was missing was a bill for €20 for two modest glasses of pretty ordinary wine while gawping at an extraordinary sunset from a Fira clifftop bar.

And because we don’t have little kids waking up at stupid o’clock anymore, I slept like a baby on Sunday until 11am. I can’t remember a time when I slept so late. I’m going for 1992.

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Then the highlight of the weekend, Sunday lunch at Quite Simply French, courtesy of my sister who gave me a couple of Sunday lunch vouchers for my birthday last month. The food there is out of this world. You know when people ask what you’d want for your last meal? Absolutely anything from there please.

Then it was a five-mile walk with the dog, the last 10 minutes of exquisite bedlam at Man Utd v Liverpool and then cooking the sauce for Monday night’s curry (onions, ginger, garlic, turmeric, garam masala, fresh coriander, salt, pepper, chillies, cinnamon stick, cardamoms and a tin of tomatoes) to be dumped in the slow cooker with some chicken at 2pm on Monday. If your postcode starts with LA1, that’s what that beguiling aroma was. Glorious.

Anything else? Oh yeah. Knocked up a tomato and spinach soup for the boss’ lunches at work this week. Cook once - eat four times. Advice that seems revelatory now but that our grannies could have told us for free when we were young and stupid.One of the beauties of not cooking for your kids on a regular basis is the total absence of lip curls, sighs and the occasional outright refusal when a plate of warm, freshly cooked food is placed on the table in front of them. Although in fairness, since they moved out and have to fend for themselves they’ve hoovered up everything I’ve ever cooked for them with genuine appreciation.

Yeah, we’re urban sophisticates of the North, us.

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